The travel company Expedia have made changes to their animal welfare policy and are no longer selling holidays that include tickets to attractions with captive whales and dolphins.
The decision follows calls from figures such as Joanna Lumley and Carrie Johnson, for Expedia to put an end to holidaymakers watching captive cetaceans perform tricks and swimming with them. However, “seaside sanctuaries that provide captive animals with a permanent seaside living environment are allowed if they are accredited and do not feature interactions or performances” and Expedia will continue to sell tickets to these attractions.
Announcing their decision, a spokesman for Expedia said “We prohibit activities that feature interactions with or performances by dolphins, whales and other cetaceans.”
Animal welfare charities have welcomed this decision after campaigning for Expedia to make this since 2019, with more than 350,000 supporters signing petitions, and raising awareness online and on the street.
Although in recent years keeping cetaceans in captivity has fallen out of favour, there are still over 3,000 dolphins in captivity across the world. Animal welfare charities have argued that although watching cetaceans perform may seem like innocent fun, it is a form of extreme animal cruelty with the animals suffering poor physical and mental health. There were once 30 attractions in the UK which held captive dolphins, but after a campaign, public support decreased and by 2003 the last attraction shut its doors.
Before Expedia announced the ban, they had partnerships with roughly 50 venues holding at least 600 dolphins in captivity. They have also announced that they do not sell tickets for attractions such as pet cafes, restaurants and travelling zoos and do not “allow intentional physical contact with wild and exotic animals” - this includes dolphins, whales, elephants, big cats, bears, reptiles and primates.
Other companies have also made similar decisions in recent years including Virgin Holidays announcing it would no longer sell tickets to experiences with captive animals in 2019, TripAdvisor stopping the promotion of such holidays and in April 2021 the UK Government announced a ban on firms advertising cruel elephant-riding holidays. Campaigners are now hoping that other travel companies will follow suit.
ORCA believe that no cetacean should be kept in captivity and we hope that soon all whales and dolphins can live freely in the wild and we can continue to learn about them by observing them in the open ocean. Our vision is to see the ocean alive with whales and dolphins and we work tirelessly to protect these animals in the wild in waters around the UK, Europe and beyond, but we cannot do this without your help. If you would like to donate to ORCA, however small an amount, your money will be used to further the conservation of whales and dolphins and protect these animals for future generations.